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  1. #1
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    Default Hoof Concavity: Why and why not? UPDATED PICS

    I have a horse that only achieves concavity in his feet when he is shod. He typically goes thru the late spring/summer/early fall shod and I pull his shoes for winter. Within a few weeks of pulling them off he has grown out his nail holes and everything looks great - and he is sound thru the process - but he slowly loses concavity over the winter.

    By this time of the year, he has lost almost all concavity. He also starts to become a little sensitive. His foot looks GREAT - balanced, heels back/under, toe short (he tends to not wear as short a toe as I would LIKE to see, but that's him) and his white line is tight.

    My farrier thinks it is environmental - that when he has shoes on, I ride him on surfaces that encourage his foot to grow more concave, and that in the winter he is on softer surfaces and therefore he grows a flatter foot. He does not think it is a laminitis issue as it begins in the winter and progresses over the spring and he shows no other signs - he's certainly not a sinker.

    So what gives? Any ideas? Obviously I would like him to have optimum concavity all the time!
    Last edited by EqTrainer; Mar. 30, 2006 at 03:11 PM. Reason: Updated With Pictures



  2. #2
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    I use the Natural Barefoot Trim to achieve a concave affect. My farrier rasps the toes *under* and never trims the frog unless it is thrushy. My mare never chips even if she is a bit overdue and is never sore with this process. I hope to learn this and eventually do my own trims.



  3. #3
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    Have you measured the concavity (lack thereof) at its worst? Just curious to know how flat it is. Sometimes shoes give a false appearance of concavity by "holding" things together, ie "vaulted". If his feet aren't warmer when they're barefoot than when shod I would guess that perhaps he isn't getting enough circulation at the coronary band and maybe there aren't enough nutrients to the wall/laminae promoting good strong growth and attachment which results in concavity. Does he mustang roll the wall when barefoot? This can promote concavity.
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  4. #4
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    Lookout, how do you measure concavity? Am not sure if his feet are warmer barefoot or shod, will most likely not shoe him until May.

    He is definately rolled. I was looking at him again at feeding time and I swear.. I think his heels are too short! They are wayyyyyy back underneath him - definately NOT long and underrun - but no real heel length. The pasture he is in is very dry and abrasive, I wonder is he wearing his foot off too quickly...

    he is one of those horses that just gets a going over with the rasp every two weeks or so and then my farrier checks him at 6 weeks. Usually just takes off a bit here or there, nothing significant. So I think his feet are essentially in balance.

    Will try to take pics tomorrow. I am wondering if he needs some benign neglect.



  5. #5
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    I know, the temp comparison is a long term project but something to keep in the back of the mind.
    One way to measure concavity is by laying a straight edge across the sole at the frog apex and measuring from the straight edge to frog apex (a vertical measurement). This is the deepest point of concavity in the coffin bone and should be around 1.5 cm in front, more in back.
    The way you described his roll doesn't sound like what I was imagining. Maybe someone else who does this more can explain it better.
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  6. #6
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    It seems as though it might be possible that the softer winter footing would mean that the sole wouldn't get exfoliated. In other words that the "loss of concavity" that you're seeing is an illusion--what you're really seeing is built-up, dead sole.

    One way to tell for sure is to take some x-rays of the foot and see what's going on inside. (Although I'm sure that if the horse is sound paying the money for x-rays just to see what's going on is probably not high on your list of prioritized expenses ).

    When I had my mare shod, she usually had pads. When I would take off the shoes for the winter, the soles did look flat because the pads had prevented the sole from being exfoliated.



  7. #7
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    PostingTrot, I have thought about that, thank you for reminding me.

    I am one of those people who is afraid of the hoof knife <LOL> I think tho' that he is pretty clean soled. We have been so dry this year, and his pasture is not just flat, that they all do a pretty good job of keeping their soles exfoliated.

    But it is possible. It just seems so odd, to see it change like that.

    I would LOVE to take films and may do that when my vet comes out to do Mr. Insulin-Resistant-I-Had-A-Flare-Up (different horse, different head ache).

    Diet: The horse in question is an easy keeper. He gets all the fescue hay he can eat (this time of year, he is starting on grass), a ration balancer, 2 oz mag ox, sel/E, and the min/vitamin mix that goes with the balancer + corn oil. If I were trying to promote a healthier foot, what could I change/add/subtract? I do have to say, his feet look very healthy and he never abcesses.. he is a very healthy horse in general



  8. #8
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    EqTrainer, I have a horse here who just doesn't exfoliate his sole. He does the exact same things the other two do - those usually have very little for me to scrape off with the knife. But this guy usually has a good solid 1/4" of dead sole that easily comes off with a dull knife. Before I trim, he looks pretty darn flat. After I trim, he has 3/8" concavity, and remains sound.

    When you look at your horse's sole, is it smooth, or is it crackly looking? The latter would indicate the sole is trying to exfoliate, but environment isn't doing it. For some horses, I believe, enough dead sole that remains packed in can cause some pressure.
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  9. #9
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    JB, his sole looks smooth and waxy. Some loose material around the heel area somtimes. But for the most part, I don't see anything to trim.

    But as I said, I am afraid of my hoofknife!



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by EqTrainer
    His foot looks GREAT - balanced, heels back/under, toe short (he tends to not wear as short a toe as I would LIKE to see, but that's him) and his white line is tight.
    Do you happen to have any pictures of his Winter feet? I just wonder if his entire foot gets run forward. No stretched WL, but just a too far forward foot overall. In softer ground, the horse won't wear the toe back, but that doesn't mean it's right for the foot. It might be that you have to keep aggressively backing the toe up.
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET



  11. #11
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    I have a pony that developes very flat soles too. His problem is that his sole is so hard that it does not exfoliate like it should and will fill in nearly level with the hoof wall. This has several times fooled me when I was trimming his heels too. I thought I was trimming so that I had a clean heel/bar triangle, but in reality I wasn't trimming to live sole. Is it possible that the lack of concavity in your horse's hooves is due to too much sole??
    Jen



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lookout
    If his feet aren't warmer when they're barefoot than when shod I would guess that perhaps he isn't getting enough circulation at the coronary band ...
    Lookout...this is an interesting bit of information....do you have links or references to the original studies that determined this? Or are they simply your observations and opinions?

    How would one determine if a hoof were warmer wnen shod or undshod? Simply by feel doesn't seem good enough....since the hoof can be warm or cold at any givern time depending on when the hoof "calls" for circulation. I have handled lots of horses' feet that are shod and then unshod and they are never noticably different in temperature...but, perhaps I am missing something.
    December 13 - National Day of the Horse!
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  13. #13
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    EqT....I also think that it is a matter of a wetter, softer environment. Perhaps even a lack of exerecise? I would also recommend getting x-rays if there is cause for concern.

    In general, I think that concavity is a direct result of the strength of the hoof structures (espeically the laminar junction). However, I also think that there are many factors that come into play. I have a mare that is a sinker that has great concavity in her feet (and no contraction)...so that is not necessarily a related thing. However, I can also say that if she gets excited in a stall and jumps around that she can end up with flatter-than-flat feet in a matter of minutes. So, her concavity is not really "false", but it is volitle. So, there is definately more than just the strength and health of the lamina....but that is most likely a major player....in determining/keeping concavity.

    If you horse's feet don't seem to change size or shape when they are not shod vs shod....then I don't believe that the shoes are giving you any false impressions of concavity either. This generally happens when the hoof is contracting/contracted as a result of incorrect shoeing. When the shoes are pulled in these cases, generally the hoof will try to regain its more natural shape and thus will most likely flatten somewhat compated to the vaulted appearance that it had when contracted.
    December 13 - National Day of the Horse!
    Proud member of the * Hoof Fetish Clique *



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by slb
    Lookout...this is an interesting bit of information....do you have links or references to the original studies that determined this? Or are they simply your observations and opinions?
    SLB, there are documenting pictures in Strasser's book A Lifetime Of Soundness. The pictures were taken with an infra-red camera and you can see a tremendous difference of temperature between shod and barefoot horse's lower legs.

    I don't know if she has those pix on her website as well.

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by slb
    If you horse's feet don't seem to change size or shape when they are not shod vs shod....then I don't believe that the shoes are giving you any false impressions of concavity either. This generally happens when the hoof is contracting/contracted as a result of incorrect shoeing. When the shoes are pulled in these cases, generally the hoof will try to regain its more natural shape and thus will most likely flatten somewhat compated to the vaulted appearance that it had when contracted.
    Do you have the links or references to the studies that determined this? Or is it just your opinion?
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by luvmytbs
    SLB, there are documenting pictures in Strasser's book A Lifetime Of Soundness. The pictures were taken with an infra-red camera and you can see a tremendous difference of temperature between shod and barefoot horse's lower legs.

    I don't know if she has those pix on her website as well.
    Um....i was hoping for a real source of information on that. Those images are at best questionalbe. Thermography is not a measurment of blood flow, but rather of heat and it must be very carefully done as the images can be effected by a variety of environmental and other factors. If thermography were all that accurate, it would be used in many research projects....such as Pollitt's...rather than having to euthanize horses to study some effects of circulation.

    Thermography is commonly used as a secondary diagnostic tool that indicates wehre an injury or pressure point might be...not where there is or is not circulation. While these things are related, they are not necessarily accurately diagnosed by the same instruments.

    I don't want this to be a "Strasser thing"...I am simply looking for more research on the subject so that I can draw my own conlusions from a number of studies rather than just relying on one controversial one.
    December 13 - National Day of the Horse!
    Proud member of the * Hoof Fetish Clique *



  17. #17
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    Ok, I could not get pics today. But I did attack him with my hoof knife <LOL> against my better judgement. Here is what I found:

    Towards one heel, he did have quite a bit of dead sole that easily flaked out and left me a nice looking heel the opposing heel (inside) appears to be live OR the most packed, dead sole I have ever seen in my life OR a bar that has just gone crazy wild and is impacted past anything I have ever seen. I can barely cut into that area with my hoof (!) knife. Towards his toe he did have some extra sole to exfoliate but not a whole lot. His breakover is VERY short, about an inch from the point of his frog, maybe less. He does not have a great toe callous. He also had a nifty bruise that bled when I scraped it, very near that toe.

    The other foot had less easily distinguishable dead sole material. I took some off, hoping to find something that clarified the situation but never really did. When I was done, both feet were more concave. And he walked off ok until he hit a rock and then OMG..

    hopefully tomorrow I can get pics. I really don't think this is a "toes need to be shorter" thing. I am pretty toe aggressive. Maybe too toe aggressive! I should throw away that hoof knife..



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by slb
    EqT....I also think that it is a matter of a wetter, softer environment. Perhaps even a lack of exerecise? I would also recommend getting x-rays if there is cause for concern.

    In general, I think that concavity is a direct result of the strength of the hoof structures (espeically the laminar junction). However, I also think that there are many factors that come into play. I have a mare that is a sinker that has great concavity in her feet (and no contraction)...so that is not necessarily a related thing. However, I can also say that if she gets excited in a stall and jumps around that she can end up with flatter-than-flat feet in a matter of minutes. So, her concavity is not really "false", but it is volitle. So, there is definately more than just the strength and health of the lamina....but that is most likely a major player....in determining/keeping concavity.

    If you horse's feet don't seem to change size or shape when they are not shod vs shod....then I don't believe that the shoes are giving you any false impressions of concavity either. This generally happens when the hoof is contracting/contracted as a result of incorrect shoeing. When the shoes are pulled in these cases, generally the hoof will try to regain its more natural shape and thus will most likely flatten somewhat compated to the vaulted appearance that it had when contracted.
    Ahhhhh... slb... I can't say this post makes me feel great <LOL> I kinda think he is of the volative concavity category.

    Nope, his feet do not change size or shape when shod. His heels are never contracted and he does not expand or spread once they are taken off. In my heart I feel this horse has healthier feet when he is shod, which baffles my logical mind but I can't shake it. Once I realized that he is always concave when shod and loses it when barefoot it really got me to thinking, hence this post.

    I do not think he is being trimmed as if for a shoe, as I see sometimes and then the horses are really sore. I am suspicious tho' that we may have been taking off too much toe. Again, will try to do pics tomorrow.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lookout
    Do you have the links or references to the studies that determined this? Or is it just your opinion?
    If you read carefully, you will have your answer. I sometimes have trouble sorting out what may be research from your opinions as you do not tend to express that difference in an apparent manner.
    December 13 - National Day of the Horse!
    Proud member of the * Hoof Fetish Clique *



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by slb
    Thermography is commonly used as a secondary diagnostic tool that indicates wehre an injury or pressure point might be...not where there is or is not circulation. While these things are related, they are not necessarily accurately diagnosed by the same instruments.
    I hope that you can find something more valuable and share it with us. Unfortunately that is the only documented example I could think of.

    While I myself have used my own testing by simply "feeling" the difference in temperature or pulse in horses that are barefoot versus shod, that would not qualify as scientific research.

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